Under the Table

A chronicle of gastronomic adventures by G.A. Benton

Jul 3

Wandering into NoMad and the year’s bar-setting meal

Holidays are kinda made for inventory-taking, right? Well, with that in mind, I figured since tomorrow is that grand All-American midsummer’s holiday, it might be a fine time to update this truant blog with “What I Ate” on the traditional beginning-of-summer holiday — BTW it was crazy-great.

When I read that the NoMad restaurant in The NoMad Hotel (note: NoMad stands for North of Madison Square park) was the site of a newer, cocktail-ier, “more casual” restaurant headed by super-brilliant, Swiss-born chef Daniel Humm, I knew I had to dine there while in NYC for a Memorial Day getaway.

Do you know about Humm? He’s the top toque at fabulous Eleven Madison Park (NYT 4-stars, Michelin 3-stars, i.e. the highest possible honors in the entire world); I happened to be lucky enough to dine at EMP last summer — and I couldn’t have loved it more.

Anyway, Humm’s been in the news recently as this current NYC topdog cook just won the 2012 James Beard Award for Outstanding Chef. Believe me, he deserves it. Here’s a look at our Memorial Day lunch: 

NoMad’s (free!) bread service is a rather husky and lavish affair which stars this mammoth, warm and crustily seductive potato-crested loaf. Yeah, it coulda been the veritable meal-in-itself, but we were on a mission 

Egg Poached with asparagus, quinoa and parmesan — delicate yet explosive and a carnival of textures

Tagliatelle King crab, Meyer lemon & black pepper — I’m a pasta whore and I would gladly hit the streets for weeks for this deceptively simple ensemble. It was especially unusual because, at first glance, it was in essence sauce-less. One bite into the sublime handmade noodles, though, told me they had to’ve been cooked in a bright Meyer lemon sauce which the pasta had completely soaked up — and which detonated off the insanely fresh shellfish. A more artful application of cooking basics — salt, pepper, butter — would be hard to imagine 

Halibut Slow-cooked with spring peas, saffron & lemon-thyme. This butter-bathed dish was one of those deals where you taste every single, super high-grade ingredient in its pristine and individual state while you simultaneously taste it synergizing with its platemates into something different and even more special 

Working with NoMad’s sommelier, we paired our courses with cocktails — fun!

Here are the superior cocktails we enjoyed that day — some of which rhymed with the food, some of which drew brash counterpoints with it, all of which we marveled over (note the glasses, ice, garnishes…). Believe me, we can’t wait to go back to NoMad!

Haymarket Suze, cucumber, lime, pale ale

Satan’s Circus Rye whiskey, Thai bird chili-infused aperol, cherry heering, lemon

Velvet Cobbler Amontillado sherry, Riesling, Lemon verbena

Panamericano Pisco Acholado, Cocchi Americano, Dolin de Chambery Blanc Vermouth